The Lakeside Middle School Gymnasium was the site of the Region 3-AAAA high school wrestling team duals on Saturday, and it turned out to be a banner day for Columbia County.
The Lakeside High School squad enhanced its strong wrestling tradition by capturing the region crown, while Greenbrier High School's upstart program placed second to earn its inaugural trip to the Class AAAA state tournament, which will be Saturday in Ringgold.
"It's great that we have two Columbia County teams representing 3-AAAA at state," Lakeside coach Randy Hill said. "I would like to commend Coach (Mike) Meyer for the great job he's doing at Greenbrier."
The Wolfpack is in just its second season of wrestling, but Lakeside began its program in the mid 1990s, and was the first area high school to have a wrestling team.
Lakeside's experience paid off Saturday, as the Panthers defended their region title by pounding Glenn Hills, Baldwin and Greenbrier.
"I feel like they did a real good job," Hill said of his Panthers. "We wrestled with some intensity. We really wanted this one, because it's hard to win back-to-back region titles."
The team tournament was split into separate brackets so that two matches could take place simultaneously, and the stands were packed with parents and fans cheering as the young men grappled on the maroon-matted floor.
Dressed in singlets and headgear, wrestlers grabbed, slid, threw and lunged at their opponents, trying to outscore them or pin their shoulders to the mat.
En route to the championship match, Greenbrier posted victories over Butler and Hephzibah, but the Pack met their match in the finals - Lakeside outpointed its county rival 55-19, but the score was not as lopsided as it sounds.
"We scored a lot of points, but Greenbrier stayed in the matches the whole time," Hill said. "They have some good, young kids."
And the Lakeside Panthers have a nice, new trophy.
Region 3-AAAA Region wrestling team duals
First round: Lakeside d. Glenn Hills, 60-18; Baldwin d. Cross Creek, 45-36; Hephzibah d. Burke County, 54-30; Greenbrier d. Butler, 45-36.
Semifinals: Lakeside d. Baldwin, 65-12; Greenbrier d. Hephzibah 48-21.
First round consolations: Glenn Hills d. Cross Creek, 60-40; Butler d. Burke, 42-42 (criteria).
Second round consolation semis: Hephzibah d. Glenn Hills, 60-21; Baldwin d. Butler, 54-24.
Consolation championship: Hephzibah d. Baldwin, 42-41.
Region finals: Lakeside d. Greenbrier 55-19.
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